The Top 2 Ways the Court Gets Involved in Your Estate, and How to Avoid Them

By |2020-02-11T22:40:20+00:00January 28th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, GUARDIANSHIP, PROBATE|

No one wants unnecessary court involvement in their life. But without careful and proactive estate planning, chances are that some aspect of your estate will end up being decided there. Here are two of the most common ways court proceedings can make their way into the management and distribution of your assets, along with the estate planning measures you can take to avoid them. Guardianship and conservatorship If you experience an inability to make decisions on your own behalf, also known as legal incapacity, and you don’t have provisions for what to do in this situation clearly outlined in your [...]

There’s Never A Better Time Than Now To Get Your Affairs in Order

By |2019-11-07T11:53:18+00:00January 21st, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, GUARDIANSHIP, POA, Wills|

The idea of getting your financial and legal house in order is likely the last thing on your mind during the busy holiday season. But, getting started is much easier than you think. In fact, the end of the year is a good time to reflect upon the year that has passed and focus on your aspirations for the future. Don’t hold this task off for later. Some careful thought and a little bit of work now can go a long way to help you feel 100% confident about moving forward in the new year. In preparation for the upcoming [...]

Estate Planning That Expresses Who You Are – 5 Things to Talk About with Your Family

By |2019-11-07T11:50:34+00:00January 14th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, POA, Trusts, Wills|

You intend to pass along your wealth through your estate plan, but what about your wisdom? Ensuring you accomplish both calls for a family meeting to have a conversation about your money, your legacy, and your core principles. Most families lead far-flung and busy lives, meaning the only time they see one another face-to-face is around the dinner table during a handful of major holidays. The estate planning process is a perfect opportunity to bring everyone together outside of those scheduled occasions — even if a child or grandchild has to attend via video chat. happy family having fun [...]

Why Your Estate Planning Project Must Morph into a Process

By |2019-11-07T11:41:50+00:00January 7th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, POA, Trusts, Wills|

Many people put their estate plan on their to-do list as a one-time project: “Create estate plan” or “Meeting with lawyer 10:30 a.m. Thursday for estate plan.” Thinking of your estate plan as a single project or task to complete and move off your list is a common approach – but it’s also an approach that can land you in considerable hot water. Here’s why it’s essential to view your estate plan as a process, rather than a project. Process vs. Project: What’s the Difference? A project that takes several steps to complete – like an estate plan – can [...]

‘Till Death Do Us Part, Too: Estate Planning Tips for Commitment Without Marriage

By |2019-11-07T11:31:34+00:00December 31st, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, Trusts, Wills|

Advice columnist Ann Landers once observed that “love is friendship that has caught fire.” If that’s true, there are thousands of ways for that blaze to unfold. For many Americans, such devotion and passion do not need to be neatly formalized as marriage. Tonight being New Years Eve, I am sure some people will change their "status" from single to engaged, dating, or visa versa. I wanted to stop there for a minute and see how our romantic choices affect our estate planning. It is no secret, our cultural norms are shifting, and quickly. Consider the following: Per the U.S. [...]

Caution:  Your Traditional Asset Protection Plan is Set Up to Fail

By |2019-11-07T11:23:15+00:00December 23rd, 2019|Categories: BUSINESS PLANNING, ESTATE PLANNING, RETIREMENT|

You may be surprised to learn that not only has asset protection planning been around for a long time, but you have already engaged in it at some point during your life.  In fact, you probably have one or more types of traditional asset protection planning in place at this very moment.  The problem is in many cases the type of planning you have right now won’t be enough to protect you and your family. What is Asset Protection Planning? Asset protection planning is done to preserve and protect your property in advance of a claim, or the threat of [...]

How Does an IRA Fit Into Your Estate Plan?

By |2019-11-07T11:13:11+00:00December 10th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, RETIREMENT|

When you think of IRAs, you probably think of retirement. But what happens to your IRA money after you’re gone? The answer depends on how you go about creating your estate plan and selecting beneficiaries, and you might be surprised to find out that your money could end up with the wrong people or cause an unexpected tax bill if you don’t take action ahead of time. What your IRA means for your estate plan Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are often one of the biggest financial accounts you invest in over the course of your lifetime. When you’re working on [...]

Dispelling the Top 3 Estate Planning Myths

By |2019-11-07T11:01:53+00:00November 26th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE, Wills|

Like any other complex subject, estate planning has its share of myths and misconceptions.  Understanding the top three estate planning myths will help you to create and maintain a plan that will work the way you expect it to work when it’s needed. Estate Planning Myth #1 – You Don’t Need an Estate Plan Because Your Spouse Will Inherit Everything A common belief is that if you’re married and you don’t have a will or a trust, your spouse will still inherit everything.  Unfortunately this is not always the case.  Who will inherit your estate even if you’re married depends [...]

3 Ways to Minimize Estate Planning Fees

By |2019-11-07T11:01:21+00:00November 19th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE, Wills|

Today, it is impossible to put together even a simple estate plan without the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney. Why? Because estate planning laws vary greatly from state to state and these laws are extremely convoluted and constantly changing. One wrong word, one missing signature, or one procedure not followed to the letter of the law can partially or completely invalidate a Last Will and Testament, Revocable Living Trust, Advance Medical Directive, Living Will, or Durable Power of Attorney.  Though attorney fees may feel expensive, they’re actually not when viewed in light of the service and protections provided.  [...]

Estate Planning Considerations for Benefits Open Enrollment

By |2019-11-07T10:57:45+00:00November 7th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, RETIREMENT|

The fall, generally late-October or early-November, is the time when employers send out summaries of employee benefits offered by the company and give employees the option to enroll in these benefits. These can generally include retirement plan options, health care, dental, vision, short and/or long-term disability, and life insurance coverage. Your employer may pay 100 percent of the premiums, split the costs with you, or you may have to pay all of the premiums yourself. Below are several considerations you should keep in mind once open enrollment begins. Benefits Explained When considering any retirement plan offered through your employer such [...]

Baltimore Register of Wills Can’t Find Her Father’s Original Last Will, Will Your Family Be Able to Find Yours?

By |2019-11-06T22:31:23+00:00November 5th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE|

While it’s not unusual for an original last will and testament to be misplaced, it is when your daughter happens to be the Register of Wills for Baltimore City. What is a Register of Wills? In Maryland, the Register of Wills is an elected official in each county and the City of Baltimore who is responsible for overseeing the administration of the estates of deceased persons during the probate process.  As an added benefit, each Maryland Register of Wills provides safekeeping for the last will and testaments of living persons. Why is it Important to Locate an Original Last Will? [...]

High Deductible Health Plan? How Your Health Savings Account (HSA) Works with Your Estate Plan

By |2019-11-06T22:19:24+00:00October 22nd, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

If you’re enrolled in a qualified high-deductible health plan (HDHP), you must consider how your health savings account (HSA) fits into your estate plan—especially to make sure that any hard-earned money left in your HSA when you die goes where you want it. What is an HSA? An HSA is an account whose funds may be used to pay for qualified medical expenses or saved for expenses that arise in the future. These accounts have several tax advantages. You can deduct contributions to the account up to the yearly limit. You pay no income taxes on earnings in the account [...]

Legal Paperwork Cheatsheet: A Guide to the Top 12 Must-Have Documents

By |2019-11-14T16:10:44+00:00October 15th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

Whether you own a little or a lot, the last thing you want to do to your loved ones is leave a bureaucratic mess after you pass away or become incapacitated. Aside from mourning your passing or a significant deterioration in your health, this will cause the family additional stress. Heirs may forfeit life insurance payouts, tax deduction advantages, or miss accounts they did not know existed. This is why it is key to have your estate plan in place before life circumstances get the best of you. In order to avoid problems, below is a list of a dozen [...]

IRS Announcement:  Estate Tax Closing Letters Will Now Only Be Issued Upon Request

By |2019-11-07T10:58:48+00:00October 12th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: |

Due to the increased volume of federal estate tax return filings in order to make the “portability election,” the IRS has announced that estate tax closing letters will only be issued upon request by the taxpayer. This change in IRS policy started on June 1, 2015. What is the “Portability Election” and How is the Election Made? The “portability election” refers to the right of a surviving spouse to claim the unused portion of the federal estate tax exemption of their deceased spouse and add it to the balance of their own exemption. The portability election went into effect for [...]

Do you really need a trust?

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00October 8th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

Although many people equate “estate planning” with having a will, there are many advantages to having a trust rather than a will as the centerpiece of your estate plan. While there are other estate planning tools (such as joint tenancy, transfer on death, beneficiary designations, to name a few), only a trust provides comprehensive management of your property in the event you can’t make financial decisions for yourself (commonly called legal incapacity) or after your death. One of the primary advantages of having a trust is that it provides the ability to bypass the publicity, time, and expense of probate. [...]

Do you really need a will?

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00October 1st, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

You May Not Think You Need a Will, But You Really Do.  Most Americans do not have a simple will as part of their estate plan. You might believe that a will is only for the rich and famous, and not the average person who has a far smaller net worth. On the other hand, you may think that a will is entirely unnecessary since you have a trust, jointly owned property, or have named beneficiaries on your insurance. So, do you really need a will? The short answer to this question is “yes.” In fact, everyone who owns anything [...]

Murphy’s Law and Estate Planning

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00September 24th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

 As the old adage goes “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Referred to as Murphy’s law, this well-known saying has no mercy. Sadly, estate planning is no exception to its wrath. There is hope! Below are five-estate planning mistakes and how to fix them: Incorrect guardian for your children: A will is a way for you to control what happens to your estate and your minor or disabled children from the grave. If you fail to put together a will, the state will decide who cares for them at a court hearing. If you do have a will, [...]

Trusts – The Swiss Army Knife of Estate Planning

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00September 17th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

 To the general public, a trust may seem like an advanced tool only for the wealthiest among us. But, the reality is that trusts are a foundational estate planning tool with a solid history for being highly effective in ensuring a person’s wishes are carried out. The process begins with the maker of a trust – commonly referred to as the trust maker, grantor, settlor, or trustor – transferring his or her ownership of certain assets to the trust. A trustee is then appointed to manage these assets for the beneficiary (or beneficiaries) of the trust. In a “standard” revocable [...]

Avoid Living Probate: How to Keep Guardians and Conservators Out of Your Estate

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00September 10th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

While most proactive individuals know the importance of having a well-rounded estate plan, it is typically considered as something that will take effect after they have passed away. But there are in fact many ways in which comprehensive estate planning can have a positive impact on your life while you are still around to reap the benefits. Planning for Incapacity Most people who reach old age come to a point at which they are no longer in a position to handle all of their affairs on their own. In many cases this incapacity is due to dementia or other cognitive [...]

Why a Trust Is the Best Option for Avoiding Probate

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00September 3rd, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

As Ambrose Bierce once darkly observed, “Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.” Obviously, ideally, when someone passes away, the paperwork and material concerns associated with the estate are so flawlessly handled (thanks to excellent preparation) that they fade into the background, allowing the family to grieve and remember in peace. In fact, the whole business of estate planning – or at least a significant piece of it – is concerned with ease. How can assets and legacies be transferred to the next generation in a harmonious, stress-free, fair process? To that end, one primary [...]